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SIM card, phone & prepaid Visa/MC around Tours

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Birmingham, Alabama
posts: 61
reviews: 12
SIM card, phone & prepaid Visa/MC around Tours

Hello all:

I am flying into Paris this coming Tuesday morning (very early), picking up my rental car, and driving to a rental near Parthenay. I'm going to want to get a SIM card for my Ipad (2), a cheap phone and a preloaded card of some sort as quickly as I can. I've listed them in descending order of importance - it would be great to get all three taken care on that day, but if I can't I would at least like to get that Ipad set up.

So my question is - I have researched what I need to do and am familiar with the major providers, which are Orange and SFR. My thinking is to stop at one of those branches either in Tours or Poitiers and get taken care of. Does anyone have any suggestions regarding this "plan" (such as it is?)

The reason for wanting to find a preloaded $$ card is that I don't have a chip and pin credit card. I'm prepared to deal with cash mostly, as well as my regular credit cards with larger merchants, but since I'll be driving around for 3 weeks, I'm concerned about getting gas at unmanned kiosks and such. I understand one can get cards like this (you certainly can in the US - at any general merchant, basically), and if anyone has any suggestions on where I could get one quickly and with the least hassle, I'd appreciate it.

Edited: 1:46 pm, September 09, 2012
Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris, Loire Valley
posts: 16,895
reviews: 4
1. Re: SIM card, phone & prepaid Visa/MC around Tours

Firstly, renting a car at CDG after having spent all night on a transatlantic flight and trying to drive any distance, not to mention 4-5 hours to Parthenay, is a mistake and one that can have very dangerous consequences. Fatigue is a major cause of accidents and you will be in a car with which you are not familiar and on roads, most likely with which, you are equally unfamiliar. This is the time you should take the train to some city near your ultimate destination, perhaps Poitiers, and rent a car there.

Secondly, for iPads you´ll need to visit Orange, SFR, or Bouzigues as they offer solutions which, if not reasonably prices (and they are not), at least will give you the data download capability you are asking about.

Thirdly, cheap phones are those someone else no longer needs and is willing to give to you. Any unlocked, GSM phone operating on the 900/1800mHz bandwidths will work fine. Further SIMs for such phones can be obtained for free, if mailed and you do not have time now for that, or near free. Lebara sells SIMs for 10€ with 7.50€ talk credit but they are mostly available in larger cities. Outside of Paris, you may want to look at Phonehouse, Virgin, or any of the big box retailers as they have very inexpensive pre paid SIM solutions, some including the phone itself. Several names where you may want to check include: Carrefour, Géante, Intermarché, or Auchan. With any French SIM, incoming calls are free.

Lastly, it is doubtful that obtaining a preloaded cash card will help you at purchase fuel at any gas station. Just as in the USA, only credit cards issued in the local country are accepted at pay at the pump locations. (Have you ever had to inter your payment zip code when purchasing gas in the USA?) It is with rare exception, I have hear of one case when someone was using a UK credit card, where non French payment instruments are accepted at gas stations unless the cashier window is open. I should not rule out the possibility that you will be unable to use pay at the pump locations.

Birmingham, Alabama
posts: 61
reviews: 12
2. Re: SIM card, phone & prepaid Visa/MC around Tours

Thanks for the response - very helpful.

Tampa, Florida
posts: 29,924
reviews: 7
3. Re: SIM card, phone & prepaid Visa/MC around Tours

It doesn't take a whole lot of thought or planning to make a driving vacation work with non-chipped cards -- you just have to use a manned payment window.

there is always a manned window on the autoroutes -- so that's a non-issue.

Off the autoroutes, where gas is significantly cheaper, just go during opening hours -- usually about 9 to 7 in rural areas, give or take a half-hour or so, from Monday through Saturday, and about 9:30-12:30 (again, give or take a half-hour) on Sunday mornings.

Do make sure you go through the manned kiosk at the toll booths by the way, if you want to use a credit card -- and keep coins and bills on hand for the unmanned booths.

Birmingham, Alabama
posts: 61
reviews: 12
4. Re: SIM card, phone & prepaid Visa/MC around Tours

Thanks - I had been stressing about that a bit, after reading many threads containing dire warnings on the issue around the internet. But you're right - if I just time it right, it shouldn't be an issue.

5. Re: SIM card, phone & prepaid Visa/MC around Tours

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